Perfumed Letters

Reading the scent trail of fragrance and words


Liquid Silk: Chanel No. 5 Eau première

I’ve always envied those who can wear Chanel No. 5, but after countless attempts at every formulation, I’d given up hope. Heavy, soapy, hopped up on aldehydes, Chanel No. 5 wears me (to use one of Chandler Burr’s tag lines); I don’t wear it.

When Eau première was released, I didn’t even try it.

Somehow, in a recent chat and sniff at my favorite department store perfume counter, I was persuaded to give Eau première a trail run. And. I. Swooned.

What sets it apart immediately from its iconic sister, is Eau Première’s citrus top note. A perfectly blended citrus. I’m crazy about this note. It floats, gracefully suspended, never tumbling toward lemon curd, never colliding with cologne, never dipping into dryer-sheet cleanliness. When the citrus note settles, it provides a lasting, diffused brightness.

Eau première helps me understand the abstract quality so admired in No. 5. I recognize the citrus but do not visualize lemons. I recognize the blend as floral, but no single flower stands out. I recognize a “tone” I’d ascribe to musk, but detect no musky odor. As I grasp for words to describe Eau première, my mind wanders away from perfume material, toward fabric texture: silky. Some perfumes trigger images, others connect to sounds; Eau première stirs a memory of tactile sensations.

Fortunately, my skin likes it, too. I smell it in the morning over 20 hours after application. And I apply my perfume very lightly.

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